The extra week in Paihia was a good chance to relax and get some solid writing done, but I was itching to get back down south and see more of Auckland. Due to not driving, there was no way I could go anywhere without hitchhiking, as the InterCity services left from Auckland and travel had been restricted.
Still, there were worse places to be stuck!
As soon as lockdown lifted, I booked a bus back to the city. As my final stop on this trip – and in New Zealand – I had to wait and play around with dates until I could start the journey home (more on that in a future post). It meant more time in Auckland but less in Australia, unfortunately.
However, I was determined to make the most of my time.
Visiting the zoo
One of the things I made sure to do was visit Auckland Zoo to see the Orangutans. While there’s a lot of working on to upgrade the facilities and enclosures, there’s still a lot to see. In the middle is the Orangutan enclosure. You can spot it from the distance thanks to the tall towers that are connected with ropes.
These towers can only be reached one way and once up there, there’s no other way down. It gives the Orangutans freedom to swing up high, outside of just frames and trees planted to the ground. It’s quite a sight to see them swinging – and it’s not something they do every day. At least, not during opening hours. I got lucky enough to see them in action and it was fantastic.
There’s a lot more to see, including lions, kiwis, elephants and much more.
The Zoo sits next to Western Springs Park, which has a large lake in the middle. Before heading back to the CBD, I took some time to walk around the park and enjoy the sun. It’s a relaxing place with some stunning views.
While I didn’t go on this visit, at the other end of the park – opposite the zoo – is MOTAT, the Museum of Transport and Technology. There’s a lot to see here, from what I’ve been told, and it’s definitely on my list for the next visit I make to the city.
An afternoon at the beach
There are plenty of beaches around Auckland, and some are easier to get to than others. One such example is Mission Bay beach. A short bus ride from the CBD is all it takes to enjoy stunning beaches. Once out there, I started walking.
I passed Kohimarama Beach and St Heliers Beach before climbing up to Achilles Point, where I got stunning views across the bay. Rangitoto Island was in clear view, as was the coastal stretch I’d just walked. All three beaches were a hive of activity with swimmers, sunbathers and people sitting in the cafés and bars on the other side of the road.
I could have taken a bus back after I’d finished soaking up the sun but opted to walk. It was about a 90-minute walk, with a climb to the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial before re-joining the road. It’s an easy path to follow, and you’ll walk the northern side of Hobson Bay, too, before reaching the CBD again.
A smaller Mt Victoria
On a grey day, I thought I’d escape the CBD and take the short ferry ride to Devonport. There are plenty of shops and cafes there, and the ferries run often, so it seemed a nice little trip. There’s also Takarunga/Mt Victoria, which, while smaller than the one in Wellington, offers stunning views in all directions.
It would have been better on a clear day, but you can see just how far the city stretches. Once again, Rangitoto Island is right there – and I’m really glad I got to visit on my first trip!
At the top, there’s a historic gun emplacement that you can get up close with, and a little bit of history of the area. It’s not a hard climb, and while you can take the main road up, there’s also a trail that stretches around offers a softer incline. That’s the one I chose.
Walking around Ōrākei Basin
When the weather improved, I took another long walk to Ōrākei Basin. The walk took me through Auckland Domain and along the south side of Hobson Bay. Just before starting the boardwalk loop, I stopped off at Moustache Milk & Cookie bar and enjoyed one of their sundaes. You should try them if you get the chance!
The boardwalk around Ōrākei Basin is an easy walk, and on a day like I got its stunning and peaceful. There are boating ramps at different points, so there are activities and clubs that get out there, too. While the walk I took is scenic – even before getting to the basin – there are trains and buses you can take form the CBD, too.
With that, the time had come to leave Aotearoa New Zealand – at least for now. I missed out on getting the Waiheke Island due to the Americas Cup, and getting to Auckland’s Skytower eluded me (as did other things,) but I’m glad I got to see some of the city.
While mostly based in the CBD, I’ve been told many times that the real character of the city is in the suburbs. One day, I might find out.
For now, I have two weeks in Australia to look forward to.